The St. Louis Blues have not come out of the gates well after the All-Star break. They sputtered early and lost momentum completely in Edmonton.
The St. Louis Blues entered the week prior to the All-Star break as one of the best teams in the Western Conference. While they are still atop the conference, overall, the last couple games prior and the three games after have shown the Blues they have a lot of work to do.
St. Louis has actually gotten progressively worse in each game since the All-Star break. They actually outplayed Vancouver in the first game out, but just put too many pucks into the goaltender.
Against Calgary, the team was far too loose defensively, but battled back and won the extra point via a shootout. In Edmonton, things just compounded and the Blues were unable to get anything out of it and got the right result, which was a loss in regulation.
The Oilers got things kicked off with a goal just 5:31 into the game. The Blues had a terrible zone exit pass that was picked off by one of the league’s best scorers who made no mistake on the chance given to him.
After that, Edmonton would double the lead just 17 seconds later. It was a long shot from the point that had eyes, probably should have been stopped, but trickled just over the line for a 2-0 lead.
St. Louis barely managed to keep the game within reach as Edmonton hit some posts later in the period. Despite that, the Blues found a way to battle back in the second.
St. Louis would cut the lead in half slightly over midway through the second period. It was a great effort play as the team’s leading scorer slipped one in.
Despite somewhat dominating the second period, the Blues could not get the tying goal. They would early in the third period as the third line continued to show it has the most chemistry of any line on the team right now.
However, it seemed as though the Blues reverted to old habits once they tied the game up. Turnovers not only happened, but happened in terrible spots on the ice.
On the go-ahead goal for Edmonton, the Blues actually won a faceoff for once. However, as the team was looking to get set up on the offensive end, they turned it over and the Oilers were off to the races. Defensive choices proved to be wrong and Leon Draisaitl would bury his second of the game.
The Blues foolishly pulled the goaltender while on the power play and a faceoff loss led to an empty net goal. St. Louis just did not do enough at any point in the game to deserve more than what they got, which was a 4-2 loss.
Cons: Leon Draisaitl
This is not a knock on Draisaitl. The guy is fantastic and proving it by scoring two goals in this game, which gives him 29 on the season.
As the radio crew said, going into the game, the focus had to be on stopping Draisaitl, McDavid and the Oilers’ power play. The Blues did two of the three, but that was not good enough.
When facing a team with high powered weapons, you cannot let their best players be the ones to beat you. That is exactly what happened.
If you take away the two Draisaitl goals, maybe the Blues sneak out a point. Maybe, just maybe, they even get a win since one of the other goals was an empty net goal.
The Blues played poorly enough that maybe they still lose, but when you just hand the puck right to one of the league’s more dangerous scorers, it won’t do you much good in your attempts to stop them.
Pros: Big guys stepping up
Say what you will about the lines they play on or their consistent effort level shift after shift, but David Perron and Robert Thomas are big guys for this team. In the absence of Vladimir Tarasenko, and with Ryan O’Reilly being a bit cold, they need these guys to produce and they did.
Perron is known more for his flare and stick handling ability. When your team is down by two goals, you have to get it in the net any way possible and that is what Perron did.
You don’t expect the sniper to go to the front of the net, but that’s where Perron was. He paid the price with a crosscheck to the back, but managed to sweep the puck in from his knees. That was the kind of effort level the Blues needed from everyone in this game and did not really get.
For the team’s second goal, it was another example of the chemistry that Thomas has with Bozak. Eventually Thomas will have to fly on his own, but this duo continues to produce.
The play starts and ends with Thomas. The center kept the puck in the zone with a nice poke check, otherwise Edmonton was going to leave the zone.
Bozak then follows suit by knocking it away from an Oiler and taking it toward the end line. He then slips it back to Thomas who scores from his knees and ties the game.
Unfortunately, the Blues offense kind of died after that, but it was not for lack of effort by those two goal scorers.
I’m not sure what is wrong with the offense currently. Outside of the goals, there was nothing, just nothing.
The Blues had three shots in the first period. You should have three shots in the first five minutes, not the first 20.
St. Louis had five shots with 13:12 left in the second period. They got up to eight shots by the time the game was half over.
It’s not just a lack of shots taken, but the team could not hit the broad side of a barn. St. Louis eventually got up to 32 shots in the game, but they had almost 70 shots taken overall. More than double the shots that actually got through were either blocked or completely missed.
The ones that did get through were not troubling the goaltender enough either. There was too much one and done or just flipping it to the net, hoping for something.
The power play has dried up again, continuing to be feast or famine and coming up 0-for at the worst possible times when they need it most.
The passes were just awful in this game too. The turnovers directly set up two Edmonton goals and went directly to their current leading goal scorer. Even when they did not cause goals, the Blues just looked lost, sending the puck to random areas where nobody was or had been.
You would say they’ll get this cleaned up, but they had 10 days off and things got worse. A lack of practice time is not going to help going forward either.
Really, the Blues just failed in all three phases of the game.
Jake Allen was not at fault for this loss, but even as a fan of his, he needed to save that second goal. Pucks slip through every goaltender that ever played, but the timing of the goal could not have been worse as it really broke the back of the team for the remainder of the period.
Defensively, this team just does not have a clue right now. Sure, they were facing a high-powered offense, but the Blues usually step up to the plate, not slink from the challenge.
They were not terrible defensively, but the choices they made are what hurt them. Justin Faulk gets a lot of heat for the game winner, but the turnover near the corner caused that whole breakout.
You could see Faulk trying to tell Alex Pietrangelo to back off and go pick up Draisaitl, but the choice to take the puck carrier was the wrong one. Faulk needed to stay in his lane in that instance and did not.
That was not the only defensive breakdown for the Blues and this game was just a culmination in several games of leaky defensive play.
Offensively, the team just seems a bit lost. It is like they are trying to figure one another out again as though it is the first few games after preseason.
The trouble is, it is not preseason or the start of a season. We are closing in on crunch time and the Blues are starting to look like they now have the championship hangover that we expected in December.
I don’t believe there is enough wrong with this team to panic because teams often struggle after their bye week. Couple that with several guys losing their focus due to All-Star festivities and it might take a minute.
The minute is up and we need to see a rebound game both in result and in on-ice play. Hopefully that will come in Winnipeg, but the Jets will be stinging after dropping a game to Boston, so that’s not going to be any easier.